April 21, 2018

Salmonella Heidelberg Outbreak in Oregon and Washington in 2012

TheĀ Oregon Public Health Authority has issued a statement about a Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak associated with chicken. In 2012, there was an increase in Salmonella illnesses linked to chicken in those states. Oregon saw 56 cases of Salmonella Heidelberg, a “marked increase” over previous years.

All patients reportedly recovered from their illnesses and there were no deaths. During the years from 2007 to 2011, an average of 27 cases of Salmonella Heidelberg were reported every year. Dr. Paul Cieslak, of the Oregon Public Health Division said in a statement, “the 2012 salmonellosis outbreak is a wake-up call. While these outbreaks are unfortunate, they’re also preventable if people take the proper steps when storing, handling, and preparing raw poultry products.”

In 2012, 43 of the 56 confirmed human cases of Salmonella Heidelberg infection were caused by a particular outbreak strain linked to chicken processed by Foster Farms. No recall was issued.

Cieslak said, “chicken is safe when it’s prepared and cooked correctly. Although these cases are linked to a specific brand, there is also some risk of salmonellosis from uncooked poultry products of any kind. Poultry is routinely contaminated with Salmonella and other illness-causing bacteria.” In fact, a study conducted by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine last year found that feces were found on 50% of supermarket chickens in the United States. And a study by Consumer Reports in January 2010 found that most broilers tested were contaminated with pathogenic bacteria.

When you prepare chicken, be sure to keep the raw meat and its juices separate from other foods. Never wash chicken before cooking it, because that will spread the bacteria around your kitchen. The bacteria actually become airborne during washing. Wash your hands thorough before and after handling meat and clean all food preparation surfaces, utensils, and cookware. Cook poultry to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees, measured with a food thermometer. And use raw poultry within two days. Freeze it for longer use no more than four months.

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